Walk Your Talk by Living Your Brand Promise Every Day

Last week we talked about the importance of Transcending the Ordinary, the issue is though that it can’t end with one idea or one-touch point. It’s critical that you are living and breathing your TWIST. That’s why this week I’m sharing two brands who walk the talk.

What does “Walk the Talk” mean?

Brands that “Walk the Talk”  are brands that live their brand values – they don’t just talk about them, they bring them to life through their actions and behaviors. Employees are a key touch point for the brand and important brand ambassadors.

REI is a great brand to visit on a BrandTwist  Safari. It has many touch points which help set this brand apart and are on proud display in the stores, in walking the talk. One of the brand missions of REI is “dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship”. They showcase this in the store, but also share it with the “employee in action” wall. This is a whole wall of photos showcasing employees participating in outdoor activities.

 REI BrandTwist Brand Safari Brand Inspiration

Do you walk the talk even when it’s the opposite of what everyone else is doing?

One of the most publicized ways they speak to that mission is the award winning #OptOutside campaign. Instead of opening their doors on Black Friday (or even Thanksgiving) they forgo the sales and urge not only customers, but employees to go outside. This also speaks to their business model. In 1938 REI launched, and in their own words they chose to begin a “consumer co-op, rather than a publicly-traded company, enables us to focus on the long-term interests of the co-op and our members. We answer to you—our members—and run our business accordingly.”

Do you and your employees walk the talk?

To really ingrain this experience at every touch point it starts with employees. Microsoft, for example, starts every morning with the Microsoft team doing a “Stand Up” meeting where they get the employees excited for the day- sort of a pep rally based on the brand values. And they end the day with a similar “Stand Down” meeting- recognizing and celebrating the positive on-brand behaviors of the team members during the day, and no doubt discussing how to continuously improve.

 How can your business be inspired by great brands like Microsoft and REI to “Walk the Talk”? Are you brand values celebrated front and center? Are you and your team living them every day?

TWIST Book Julie Cottineau

Small Business Brand TWISTS – Dr. Tim Aquatics

Dr. Tim runs an aquarium supply company and has an impressive list of professional credentials including a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution and marine biology. Before Brand School, the “about me” section of his website was a laundry list of academic degrees, published articles, industry titles and honors, but it practically required a Ph.D. to read and understand it.

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The problem?

His ideal target included regular “Joe” aquarium enthusiasts who are looking for support in keeping their aquariums healthy and vibrant. Through the work Tim did in Brand School, he transitioned his brand idea from “science-based solutions” to “success at any level.” He now deliberately presents a less intimidating, more welcoming user experience (complete with an interactive recipe TWIST – think of your favorite Food Network show) where buyers feel more at ease to interact with the brand and ask more questions.

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Do you see the difference this personal and authentic TWIST adds?

 

It makes his brand more approachable, more relatable, and more likely to attract the amateur aquarium enthusiast who might be turned off by a brand that seems too scientific and overly authoritative.

“Before Brand School, we were more a ‘science’ brand but now the brand is about being a natural fish care company.  That was common with dogs and cats but we were the first with fish. The products, liquids, and fish food are natural and that resonates with consumers who see fish and an aquarium as a slice of nature in their home.”

That wasn’t the only way Tim used the TWIST lessons he learned in Brand School. They also used a TWIST to overcome objections when launching a new product.

 

“We had developed the first 100% natural, non-GMO fish food but a possible roadblock was the customer had to make it themselves which takes only 5 minutes to make a month’s worth of food.  So we twisted that possible negative – “Oh, I have to make the fish food” into a positive “ Really, I can make my own fish food”  by adding our EXTRAS which are various additions (think of them as spices) that one adds to food to customize it for their fish.”

“The EXTRAS come in pepper grinders so the consumer literally ‘twists’ the EXTRAS into the food before placing the food in the freezer to gel. This makes the food easy to demonstrate and you see the smile on people’s faces as they instantly see this is fun and not hard at all.  We even had a major store in NJ have their clerks dress up as cooks and demo the fish food – it’s a great YouTube video”.

Tim now has a powerful understanding of how to use TWISTS in his brand, but it he admits it wasn’t always easy.

 

“Initially it was hard to maintain focus and concentrate on running everything through the pillars but, as with most things, the more you do it the easier it gets and, this is the surprise, it actually makes it easier to make decisions. It if doesn’t fit – it’s out.”

“You have to trust the process. It was such a great experience for me. Though, after delving in, doing the work is hard. There is resistance, but having access to Julie with the one-on-one meetings helped to move the needle so we can continue in breaking through with a more creative flair to our brand. I’m so grateful I went through it.”

A Twist That Cleans Up

Q

What do janitors have to do with James Bond 007? Not a lot – that is, until now.

Friends Dan Teran and Saman Rahmanian were perplexed by a common problem faced by start-ups- office spaces could never adapt as quickly as the companies needed them to. It was such a pain to set up a new workspace, move a wall, order new desk chairs, or bring in an exterminator. They brainstormed and imagined the dream office manager as something like the character Q in James Bond films, a quiet genius who understands technology and creates the tools that help Bond do his work. That was how Managed by Q was conceived.

Reading the New York Times article, “Managed by Q’s ‘Good Jobs’ Gamble,” I was struck by how Teran and Rahmanian’s thought process mirrored the BrandTwist technique of twisting with a brand completely outside of a company’s category to come up with disruptive differentiating ideas. With the tagline “We make it easy to run your office,” Q uses wall-mounted iPads with an intuitive app for ordering supplies or other services. Q takes care of all the details, quietly and quickly. Specific operators are matched with companies based upon an algorithm determining best fit for clients’ needs in terms of skills and personality traits.

This TWIST warrants premium fees for what is often considered a generic service with a bonus of supporting one of the company’s core values. While actual sharing in the “sharing economy” is rare, Q’s goal is to provide its employees with a living wage. Q’s business model, hiring full-time employees with fair pay, benefits, 401Ks and training, translates to lower turnover costs of employees and clients- reducing both hiring and marketing expenses. Clients are happy to have consistent, reliable support. And the awesome employees, traditionally viewed as pure cost on the P&L statements, are considered value-added embedded salespeople for Q’s higher margin services.

I am rooting for Q to succeed, as this is a win-win for everyone! Now it is your turn. Can you think of a problem facing your sector? Is there a brand in a completely different category whose approach could be TWISTED to turn your sectors negative into a positive? We always love to hear your feedback.

About the Author:

Randi-SA

Randi Curhan is founder of MissionBoostConsulting.com, specializing in helping you figure out what you really need to do to bring your business to the next level, get projects off the plate, and get it done. A Wharton graduate, former Goldman employee and an MBA, Randi is also a Brand School Graduate and a member of the Brand School Facutly.  Randi’s love of figuring sh** out and getting it done has always made her a valuable part of teams throughout her academic and professional life. Even while taking time “off” to raise her children, Randi was the one to set up fundraising systems, databases, email invitations and graphics for events – which was the beginning of her Mission Boost Consulting.

You can reach Randi via MissionBoostConsulting.com, on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Interested in guest blogging for BrandTwist? Contact jamie@brandtwist.com.

 

 

 

 

Can You Name These Red, White and Blue Brands?

Can you name all 38 Red, White and Blue Brands in the Brand Star pictured above?

Scroll down for the answer.

Wishing everyone a happy, safe, and fun Fourth of July!

Celebrate your business by building a brand that stands out and gets recognized! Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the tools and techniques you need to keep your brand shining. Get more information about the next session and a one-on-one Brand Health Check Strategy Session HERE.

 “Brand School had great examples of real companies. I was able to dig even deeper, think of things in a new way, and get new ideas for my brand.It was well worth the fee.” - Brenda Dillion Cavette, Founder Fashionista Tea

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ANSWER:

RED, WHITE AND BLUE BRAND STAR BRANDS:

RED:

CNN, Target, CVS Pharmacy, Kool-Aid, Levi’s, Colgate, Jell-o, Coca-Cola, Campbell’s, Johnnie Walker Red Label, Red Bull, ESPN, Band-Aid.

WHITE:

Dewar’s White Label, The White House, Dove, Ivory, Calvin Klein White T-Shirts, Apple, White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor fragrance, Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels.

BLUE:

Blue Buffalo Company, IBM, WordPress, Skype, Intel, LinkedIn, jetBlue, Twitter, GE, Twitter, The Weather Channel, Facebook, AT&T, Ford, PayPal, Lowe’s, Chase.

 

Find the Perfect Match for Your Brand

There’s not a lot new about online dating. Or is there? HowAboutWe added a fresh, unexpected twist to their dating service by coming at things from a new angle. It’s not just about finding the right person to go out with, it’s also about figuring out what to do on your date.

This is an online dating site that is offline activity driven. And it’s targeting both singles and couples (another fresh twist).  On the singles side it’s what you want to do that drives the search and makes the headlines rather than a description of yourself. You “create” your ideal date activities to attract those who are interested in doing similar things. On the couple’s side, each person chooses activities they’d like to do and then shares with the other to create a great date. HowAboutWe also offers affordable access to activities and events by extending deeply discounted invitations to its members for exclusive offerings from local resources.

HowAboutWe didn’t invent something new. Online matchmaking and dating sites have become quite commonplace. Discount offers arrive every hour in our email. But HowAboutWe took a fresh look at the dating category – and by putting it all together in one place they are able to stand out in a competitive market.

What can your brand learn from them about creating deeper connections with your customers? Look beyond the table stakes of your category. Ask what else is it that people are seeking – and make that a part of what you deliver. Let’s say you sell teeth whitening strips. Simply put, your product makes teeth whiter. But what people REALLY want from your brand is to feel more appealing with a brighter and more confident smile. Armed with this knowledge you can deliver a stronger, more compelling brand promise. Offer tips on how to take great photographs; give make up advice; share ideas on what to wear to brighten your smile, or simply include more pictures of big beautiful smiles on your website.  You will go beyond users to loyal brand ambassadors.

Digging deep into what your customers are really looking for and recognizing how to more effectively deliver on that is a critical aspect of successful branding and business building. In Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, you’ll learn how to match your brand promise with your ideal target market. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here

“Quality information. The value is priceless. I loved every minute of it! I’ve recommended Brand School to industry friends and colleagues.” - Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services

Sweeten Your Brand’s Impact with a Meaningful Cause

Can a product brand have a higher purpose and not seem like it’s just jumping on the “cause” band wagon? Well, we believe that sweetriot has made the cut with grace and impact.

sweetriot makes chocolate candy. Sounds simple enough, but they have taken their brand to another level altogether. They are a mission-based business that wants to “create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation”. They embrace this idea throughout their company and in every area of brand expression.

How do they succeed in clearly defining their brand promise to make their product and purpose stand out?

Their name says it all. sweetriot immediately implies they are making their voice heard, that they welcome others into the process, and they do it while creating a sweeter place, literally and figuratively. In their own words: “A sweetriot is a joyful celebration of culture, diversity, and understanding — it is the opposite of a civil riot, which is dangerous, violent, and oppressing.”

They are consistent and creative with their use of verbal identity. CEO, Sarah E Endline, calls herself the “Chief Rioter.” Customers are asked to “Join the riot.”  Their chocolate treats are called “peaces.” Their copy reinforces their dedication to fair-trade and social causes that better the communities from where their materials are sourced.Their tagline is “Fixing the world one ‘peace’ at a time. Sweet for the world & sweet for you.”

Their mission is integrated as a part of every aspect of their business – it is not an add-on. It is integral to their products, partnerships and people. They walk the talk.

Their logo helps tell their story. Their logo is a thumbprint and also the globe. Immediately we know sweetriot is aware that they are leaving their personal mark on the world and it serves as a reminder to us that we are, too (everyone has a thumbprint and everyone lives on Earth).  Based in NYC, USA, sweetriot’s brand colors of red, white and blue reflect their company’s origin.

Their packaging is social and unique. sweetriot supports the emerging artists community by featuring works that embrace sweetriot’s culture on the candy wrappers. Works of art to be featured are selected by votes from website visitors.

sweetriot put a creative twist on their brand by directly involving their market and community and by consistently reminding their customers that when they purchase a sweetriot product they are doing more than simply satisfying a chocolate craving.

If executed with authenticity and care, your customers may respond with loyalty and enthusiasm when they realize that by connecting with your product they are in turn contributing to a larger community. Identifying associations that resonate on a meaningful level with your target market takes strategic thinking. Incorporating your promise into your brand identity takes planning. At Brand School, the highly effective, premier branding program, we deliver the tools and steps you need to sweeten your brand and its connection to your market. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

This post is part of our Brands That Twist series celebrating innovative brands. Read about other breakthrough brands and more ways to grow your business and brand here.

“I’ve taken quite a few courses on branding and marketing overall. However, what attracted me to Brand School was Julie’s experience with branding from a corporate level.” - Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services.

March Madness – Instant Replay

This webinar series replay offer has expired. Sign up to receive our email to stay up-to-date on more  free webinars, replays and additional tools and tips to grow your business and your brand.

Due to an overwhelming number of requests from webinar attendees who wanted replays, Brand School is making available – for a limited time – a rebroadcast of BrandTwist founder Julie Cottineau’s webinar series, Brands That Twist. This live, interactive series originally aired earlier in March, 2013.

If you missed out on the live broadcasts, you now have another opportunity to receive the tips and tools that will help you begin building a stronger brand.

In this series on brand building, Julie gives you clear and actionable steps that you can start using right away to help boost your business, build a stronger brand, and make a bigger impact in your market. You’ll receive a taste of what Brand School covers in more depth.

In addition, you can receive a $100 discount off the tuition of the April 2013 online session of Brand School which starts April 15th, when you enroll by March 31st.

Both the rebroadcast of the Brands That Twist webinar series and the $100 discount off Brand School offer EXPIRE SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2013 at MIDNIGHT.

To learn more about Brand School please visit: BrandSchoolOnline.com.

Enjoy the webinars!

Note: The “free seat at Brand School give away contest” Julie refers to in these rebroadcasts is over.

TWST YOUR WORDS: Leverage Verbal Identity to Shine

Tools and techniques to help you to use words: names, taglines, packaging copy and tone of voice to help your brand make some noise and be heard.

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THINK DIFFERENT: Innovation With a Twist

Boost your business with innovative and creative ways to look at old problems from new angles that will ignite new ideas and gain loyal brand fans.

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SMALL BRANDS – BIG IMPACT: Lessons From Brands That Twist

See how small brands are innovating, creating big ideas and standing out in their markets. Take away actionable steps to help your brand shine.

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Click here for more about Brand School, our highly effective, premier program to help you build your brand to grow your business.

Sweeten Your Brand with Innovation

Valentine’s Day has just passed. Searching to find a sweet little something to give as a gift online became a bit of a chore, revealing little more than those tried-and-true V-Day staples: chocolates, sparkling wines, roses and perfumes — that was until I came across a unique twist on an otherwise everyday item, honey.

Bee Raw Honey. This brand incorporates several solid branding concepts and executes them very well:

Niche: one item, well- mastered.

Name: we instantly know exactly what it is and by using the word “raw,” we know what makes it unique.

Location: proudly promoting and supporting the importance of local artisanal sources.

BUT WHAT MAKES THEM TRULY STAND OUT IS THEIR PACKAGING TWIST

They took a plain pantry staple and presented it in a way that elevates the way we think about it. We now can enjoy honey with a culinary perspective we never even considered before.

Like an elegant wine tasting experience, Bee Raw Honey offers us the opportunity to sample several flavors of honey by packaging smaller “sample tasting flights” together in a unique wooden stand. They’ve made it even easier for us to experience their product in a new and innovative way by providing food pairing ideas, menu suggestions, and recipes.

Your brand doesn’t need to be a food-related business to benefit from Bee Raw Honey’s sweet branding success.

HERE ARE THE LESSONS YOUR BRAND CAN APPLY

Think outside the box, or create a better box, literally. The way your promise is delivered does matter. Packaging may be the first physically tangible contact your market has with you; use it as an opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Give your market something new to do. Tell your market how to use your product in a new, innovative way and make it accessible.

Find innovative ways to present who and what your brand is all about. We know that executing on this concept may not  always be as easy as it sounds. We understand the challenges in creating a strong, clear and reinvigorated brand. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the tools you need to develop your brand and use it to make your business buzz. Receive more information about the next semester and also receive free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Editor’s note: This is an entry in our blog series called “Brands That Twist”. We are celebrating entrepreneurial brands and highlighting lessons that your brand can use right away to grow your business. We hope you enjoy and we’d love to hear your suggestions for future brands to feature. Just let us know in the comments section of this post. Happy Branding!

“I learned a lot from Brand School.  It inspired me to think outside the box. I have a much deeper understanding of how to effectively build a brand.” - Mike Sass, Entrepreneur

Grab a Branding Buddy This Winter

The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation

Winter can be a tough time to get creative

During the winter you can really start to feel cooped up. (Most West Coasters need not apply.) Winter has wrapped its chill around everything, ice is prevalent and you’re feeling pretty blue. In fact, January 21st is commonly known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the calendar year. And if you’re anything like most people, going slightly stir-crazy in these winter months can hinder your creativity big-time. I know I struggle with it!

Have more fun and get more done

Which is why I’m telling you, right off the bat, to get outside of your head and into your life. Really. Step outside of your office into the crisp (okay, frigid) winter air and go for a midday walk. Skip out of work an hour early, sit in a coffee shop and start stirring up some conversation with the double caf soy latte at the next table over – and maybe spark some new ideas. Know a friend or even a coworker who frequents co-working spaces, networking events or happy hours with like-minded friends? Tag along!

Energy is a funny thing; the negative sort can break your business and damage company morale. But positive energy can take you to a productive place, especially in branding. I want you to think more about feeding off the energy of others. Put yourself out there for more chance encounters and revitalizing experiences. Even overhearing a conversation about, say, social media, could spark a latent business idea you didn’t even know you had.

COME PLAY WITH ME   

I’ve hosted several workshops for branding and innovation through a partnership with Inc Interactive at the Purple Crayon Center in Westchester, NY.  These are in-person sessions with me and other amazing business professionals. The feedback we’ve received has been amazing and the results and takeaways participants get last long after the session ends. One of the big bonuses to attending workshops and events like these is that you’ll meet other like-minded entrepreneurs you can learn from, and who knows, you may even set up some brainstorming sessions on your own!

Keep a watch on the Purple Crayon Center’s schedule for future workshops or sign up for the BrandTwist list for updates on all our future events.

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Add a Fresh Twist

This post is part of our series, “Thirteen Tips For Stronger Branding.” See the rest of the series HERE.

 TIP #12: INNOVATE NEW BRAND IDEAS BY ADDING A FRESH TWIST

Fresh ideas come from looking at old problems from new perspectives. If you are only looking at and thinking about what your competition is doing, chances are you will stay in the same rut and not come up with anything new or exciting. You need to look at old challenges from new angles.

A few years back I was at an airport and saw a 747 with McDonald’s golden arches on the tail fin. I started to imagine what this McDonald’s airline would be like. I imagined it would be a good value, family friendly and most importantly it would have flexible options in terms of how I bought my ticket and any upgrades – allowing me to supersize my experience to a seat with more leg room or special menu options. As it turns out, this airline was just a figment of my imagination. It was the reflection of the neon sign in the food court on the window, and there happened to be a plane parked behind the window on the tarmac. So while it was just imaginary, it led to the very real practice of TWISTING brands in different categories to come up with new ideas. (That’s actually why I named my company BrandTwist.)

Consumers don’t live in a one-category world. For example, they make note of great customer service experiences across airlines, retail stores, dry cleaners, fast food, fine dining, taxi cabs, doctor’s offices, personal trainers…you name it. So as marketers we should constantly be looking at the larger brandscape for inspiration. A great way to leverage lateral thinking for your own brand is to imagine what a beloved brand (in a different category) would do if it took over your business. How would this brand use its brand DNA to innovate in your market?  Twist an inspirational brand (ex. Virgin, Zappos, Starbucks, Apple) with yours and see the impact it can have in creating fresh ideas for your business today.

Check out tip #13 in the series, Commit to Continual Learning.

BRAND SCHOOL CAN HELP YOU ADD THE TWIST YOU NEED

…After all, that’s what it’s designed to do.

Julie Cottineau, the former VP of Brand for Richard Branson’s Virgin, and entrepreneur and a branding expert responsible for countless small business and personal branding makeovers, has created Brand School, the highly effective, premier program to help you grow your business and perfect your brand at the same time.

Receive more information about the next semester and free brand-building tools and tips when you join the BrandTwist mailing list.

“Brand School was engaging and helpful to me in learning more about myself and my business. Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.” – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive